Tonight Kyle was looking through the MLS and discovered that another agent is using one of our property photos for their listing. He knew this because it’s a rare listing photo that he took on his own. We hire professional photographers for all of our listings, but in this case it was a rainy day, so he had to retake the exterior photo of the condo building on a sunny day.
This agent’s exterior picture has the same exact people and cars in it (on a busy Downtown Hartford street) that our picture has, so it’s clearly been copied. The agent never asked for our permission to use it. He just took it and went with it. Our only knowledge of it came from scanning the MLS for other information and stumbling across it. The agent has been using this photo for months.
Most troubling about this is that it’s now the THIRD time we’ve caught agents using our photographs and/or floor plans without our knowledge or permission. It always happens with condo listings because they have the same exterior shots, amenities and sometimes floor plans. About two years ago I found that a very well-known agent took a floor plan from one of our listings and used it on her own with the same layout. I called her to have a chat about it, she blamed it on her assistant and I insisted that it be removed immediately from all real estate websites or I would report her. I know her assistant and know that she wouldn’t have done it because she knows better, so the agent had done this on her own. I was fairly furious about it. A little over a month ago we found another agent using all of our exterior and amenity photos on one of their listings. I called her broker and he was mortified and said that she knew better.
The main issue here is that all of these agents do know better. They know they are supposed to use their own work. Or at least ask permission if they can use a photo. Our MLS does not allow taking other agent’s photos and reusing them without permission. We have sold listing photos to agents in the past when a listing is transferred to them when we were not able to sell it, or given them a photo if they just want an exterior shot. Do you know what they had to do to get that from us? Ask us. That’s all. A courtesy phone call or email. That’s all it takes. But instead these yahoos use our work, that takes time and money to develop, because it’s professional looking and they don’t have the time, effort or money to do it on their own. It’s infuriating.
We could report the agents to the MLS or another real estate authority, but that creates an issue when you need to do transactions with these agents. You can’t have people hating you because they think you were mean to them. So we deal with it on our own. I just wish folks were professional enough to have the courtesy to ask to use things that are not their own. We don’t seem to be there yet with all agents.